About Cham people – An ethnic minority in Vietnam

Cham ethnic is one of 5 ethnics in Austronesian cultural language group. To the year 2008, there were about 145 thousands of Cham people in Vietnam, ranked 14th in population among 54 Vietnamese ethnics.

Cham people in Kate festival
Cham people in Kate festival
Living places

Cham people reside in Ninh Thuan and Binh Thuan provinces. Besides, they also live in some other places but with less population such as An Giang, Binh Dinh, Dong Nai, Phu Yen, Tay Ninh as well as Ho Chi Minh city. Cham people often settle in the house with no upstairs. Each family has houses which are built near each other and are arranged in order: guest room, house for parents and children, house for girls who were married, kitchen, warehouse, bridal room.


Traditionally, Cham people live on agriculture in the wet rice field, especially they are good at irrigation and fruit gardening. Beside working in wet rice fields, some of Cham people prefer to work in dry field on the mountainside. Specially, farming is just secondary job of group of Cham people who live in the South, their main careers are fishing, textile crafts and small businesses. For handicrafts, Cham ethnic is famous for silk weaving and hand-molded pottery that is baked in the oven pit.

Pottery - One of small businesses of Cham people
Pottery – One of small businesses of Cham people

Regarding Cham’s costume, men as well as women wear panel skirts. For men, they wear buttoned short-cut blouses while women wear long pullovers. Because their clothes are made of cotton textiles, white is the dominant color in the clothes. Today in daily life, the way of dressing of Cham people especially young women is similar to Kinh people in Middle region, we can only see Cham people in the traditional dress – long pullover in older Cham women.

Cham families have matriarchal tradition. In some areas where there are Muslims, family has gradually moved to patriarchal, role of men in family has been enhanced. However, ancestor worship in family proves that patriarchal tradition still exists. In marriage, Cham people only accept a family which has one wife and one husband. Interestingly, women are active in marriage, they can still live in their houses in marriage, and their son are named according to their surnames. When it comes to funeral, people in the same family shall be buried in the same place under the maternal bloodline.

Cham ethnic has a long-standing culture
Cham ethnic has a long-standing culture


Cham people had their own writing very early, today people have found some evidences for example Bible written in Cham language to prove that. In terms of culture and art, Cham people created a lot of outstanding and valuable works. Together with rich folk literature, Cham people built up hundreds of gorgeous towers. Folk music of Cham ethnic influenced significantly Kinh’s music in Middle region such as “Trong com”, “Nam ai” music, Hue songs and more.

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